Gait (Walking) Problems

Gait (Walking) Problems

What Is an Abnormal Gait?

The term gait refers to a person’s walking pattern. An abnormal gait is an unusual walking pattern, typically caused by injury, weakness, or imbalance. These abnormalities can range from minor––perhaps barely affecting the patient’s day-to-day activities––to extreme, sometimes leaving the patient barely able to walk.

Though they may seem harmless, gait abnormalities increase risk of injury and should not be ignored. An athlete with even a small gait abnormality is at a greater risk of injury than a teammate with a normal gait. As such, it is often safest to correct most gait deviations as soon as possible.

Abnormal Gait Causes

There are many conditions which may lead or attribute to a gait abnormality. Some causes can be quite mild and temporary, such as shin splints. Others are more serious and should likely be addressed with physical therapy––for example, a pelvic floor dysfunction. Gait training may also be necessary as a post-operative plan of care, particularly after knee or hip replacement surgery.

Example Causes

  • arthroplasty (joint replacement)
  • fractures
  • muscle weakness
  • nervous system damage or disease
  • osteoarthritis
  • shin splints
  • sprains
  • surgery
  • tendonitis

Abnormal Gait Treatment

Always consult your physician before attempting any kind of treatment program.

As gait issues can be caused by a wide variety of conditions, there are many treatments that may be effective. Generally, these abnormal patterns can be corrected or improved with a combination of hands-on therapy, exercise, and gait training provided by our trained staff at Central Washington Physical Therapy.

Gait training itself can vary based on the needs of the patient. In some cases, the patient wears a special belt that the therapist can hold on to in order to support the patient as they walk. Forms of treatment that may help improve gait abnormalities are listed below.

Gait Abnormality Treatment Examples

If you suffer from a gait abnormality, Yakima’s Central Washington Physical Therapy can help. Contact us below to get started.